Darkness slid away to light as the bay door rose in its track along the ceiling. A pleasant rush of warm air filled the elevator platform, greeting the team with the smell of fried festival food and the sound of thousands of delighted voices. As their eyes adjusted to the brightness, the team heaved their machine forward into the light.
They emerged from a long wall of bay doors that faced the interior of a track circuit. Stadium seating surrounded them on all sides, reaching up three levels. Other doors along the wall slid up and down revealing more teams like their own, pushing cycles off the elevator platforms into the light. Zedd looked down the line and saw about a dozen total, each custom build. Each was magnificent in its own right.
Their own machine, Vela, rolled on three tires in a 1F2R formation, each reaching over 1.5m in diameter. Her massive front racing slick was skewered by an axle that connected to opposite brackets on a front fork. Sweeping back from behind the front tire, the headlights and their triangular housing connected seamlessly with the multi-paneled windshield, tapering to a point as tall as the adults pushing it. Her body was tiled with lusterless lavender plates that fit together like armor to conceal a network of black, mechanized innards. Along her sides ran compliments of magenta trim, inlaid with segments of black, reflecting like polished obsidian.
All five members of the Vela team heaved the machine forward like a siege engine into battle. It rolled heavily onto the burnished metal surface of the infield. This surface, as well as the magnacycle track, were composed of a metal alloy that allowed magnetic propulsion of all magnacycles. The magnetic force allowed bikes to swiftly accelerate and reach blistering speeds. Although some cycles sported air intakes, it was never mixed with fuel. Air functioned solely as a steering assistant using controlled duct openings. Exhaust pipes expelled oxygen vapor, which was used as a limited propellant in its liquid form. The magnetic caliber applied for accelerating or stopping could be controlled by a rider via hand and foot controls.
Across the infield, another wall of bay doors opened to reveal elevators lifting teams and their cycles to ground level. An array of multicolored bikes aligned in a row were being uncovered, prepped, and inspected by race officials before they were placed before the starting line. The team heaved theirs forward until it lay between illuminated parking lines.
Zedd, the team’s operator and Vela’s architect, walked along the cycle’s side and ran his fingers over the tiled panels admiring the finish. It would be his last race on the Duskrider. For him, it was bittersweet. He looked forward to retirement, but the idea of change unsettled him. After twenty years of the sport, he had trained his second in command, Lena, to assume the role of operator.
Zedd also had his son, Zark, but he did not see him as a rider. Zark was sharp for sure, but still too young. Zark functioned as the problem-solver of the team. At sixteen, he’d developed a program that doubled the learning capacity of their team’s pit droids. With Zark’s program, the team had saved thousands of dollars on expensive tools. No, Zark was too valuable an asset outside of the racetrack to be considered for operator duties. And Zark was perfectly happy with that decision.
A young man in a yellow utility suit walked in their direction with his head down making notes on his celltab.
“Hey Ian,” Zedd waved. Ian, the Safety Inspection
Manager of the league, looked up and smiled. Ian was young but had been around the sport his entire life. He was relatively new to his position, but once the Duskrider docked he would undoubtedly move on to a promising career in one of the many magnacycle leagues on Zarmina.
“Hey guys!” he said addressing the team. “Well it looks like you assessed the damage!” He smiled as he eyed Zedd up and down.
“Yeah, I was lucky. If Lena hadn’t come when she did, it could have been a lot worse.”
“Would you have had to remove?”
“Nah, I don’t think it was that bad. But I didn’t want to have to put in a claim.”
Ian laughed. “Well, after today you can file all the claims you need, right?”
Zedd laughed in return. “That’s right! We’re all going home rich today.”
“Not without an inspection first. Could you remove your side fairing?”
Zark removed the fairing to expose the interior mechanics of the machine. Ian poked around inside, moving hoses and shining his light into the depths. He laid on the ground beneath the bike and drug himself underneath the belly, shining his light this way and that, checking fastenings.
“New oxidizer?” Ian asked.
“So, where you headed next week?” Zedd asked.
“I start my new job in Escudé. I guess I’m big time now,” he replied from under the bike. “I’m gonna miss this, though.”
“You have no idea,” Zedd finished, wistfully.
After inspecting the underside, Ian stood up and strolled completely around the bike, looking for any obvious issues.
“Looks like you’re good to go!” He made a few more marks on his tablet.
“Thanks Ian. Hey, see you in Escudé.”
“See you there!” he said with a wave and a smile. He continued to the next team to begin his inspection.